Amy Howard Kitchen Makeover -- How to Paint and Distress Kitchen Cabinets

How to Antique Kitchen Cabinets

Two Parts:

Antiquing cabinets is the process of applying a dark glaze to a lighter cabinet door, to give it the appearance of old age and wear and tear. While you can do this to a damaged cabinet to make it appear a bit more 'chic', it has become quite popular to antique even brand new cabinet doors. Regardless of your motive, the process of antiquing is quite simple and requires a minimal amount of supplies and time.


Preparing for the Project

  1. Decide on a base color for your cabinets.Antiquing is a process by which you put a dark ‘antique’ stain over the top of cabinets that are painted or stained a few shades lighter. That means that the base color for the cabinets can be anything you like, be it painted white or stained oak. You can antique over your current cabinet color if you so desire, but many people like to go for a totally transformed cabinet look by adding a new base color as well. Examine your space and consider your overall décor to determine what the base color of your cabinets should be.
    • Generally, it is best to stay away from very dark base colors, as the antiquing effect won’t show up as well on them.
    • Cabinets painted white or stained with a light, natural wood stain are very popular for their ‘shabby chic’ appearance when antiqued.
  2. Choose your antique stain.The antique stain is the dark stain that will be painted over the top (and then wiped off of) the base color on the cabinets. While any matte stain will work, it is recommended that you select a stain advertised for its antiquing qualities. This is because antique stains are made to be the right opacity, luster, and color to convey an authentic antique appearance. For white and cream cabinets, choose a mid-tone antique stain. For honey/caramel tone cabinets, chose a medium to dark stain (depending on the desired contrast). For dark cabinets in a chocolate or coffee hue, you’ll want to choose the darkest antique stain available.
    • Antique stains cost about the same as regular wood stain, so you’re not losing out financially by going with this option.
    • The higher the contrast between the antique stain and the base color, the more worn and vintage the cabinets will appear when finished.
  3. Decide if you will remove your cabinet doors or leave them in place for the painting process.There are pros and cons to both leaving your cabinets in place for painting, and to removing the doors and reinstalling them post-painting. If you choose to leave them in place, you save yourself a bit of prep work. However, you may end up spending more time taping off hinges and trim as well as painting. By removing the doors, you are granted full access to every aspect of the cabinet that needs painting. However, removing the doors and replacing them when you’re finished antiquing takes a lot of time and effort.
    • If you choose to remove your doors, label them on a piece of painters tape so that you know where they are supposed to go back in place.
    • Know that you’ll have to tape off the walls, floor and/or ceiling regardless of which option you choose.
  4. Get all of your supplies ready.There aren’t a ton of supplies necessary for antiquing cabinets, but you best make sure you have all of them at the ready before starting your project. You will need:
    • Base color paint/stain (optional)
    • Antiquing stain
    • 1-2 Paintbrushes (size dependent on project - 3-inches wide is typically good)
    • 100-grit sandpaper
    • Sanding block or electric sander (optional)
    • Painters tape
    • Dry, clean cloth (choose a smooth fabric)
    • Rubber gloves
    • Finishing glaze/sealant (optional)

Preparing the Cabinets

  1. Sand down the cabinets.Paint and stain won’t adhere to a glossy or dirty base, so it is important to sand down the cabinets prior to painting them. If you have a block sander or an electric sander, now would be the time to use it. Use 100-grit sandpaper to smooth down the entire surface of each cabinet; sand until the wood looks dull/matte.
  2. Clean the cabinets.As you’ll surely find out, sanding can be messy business. Before moving onto the fun part of the project, it is necessary to clean off the newly-sanded cabinets. Use a damp, lint-free cloth to wipe down the surface of each of the cabinets until there is no sawdust in sight.
  3. Paint your base color, if applicable.If you decided to go for a base color or stain other than the original color, now is the time to apply it. Paint on a layer of paint or stain to each of the cabinets, and wait the package-directed curing time for it to dry. Follow this up with a second coat of paint or stain to finish the job. Wait for the paint to dry completely until moving on to the antiquing process.
  4. Apply the antiquing glaze.The moment you’ve been waiting for: antiquing your cabinets. Dip your paintbrush into the antiquing glaze and wipe off the excess stain, to prevent dripping. Brush over the parts of the cabinet you want the antique effect applied to, using a very light coat. Then, use a clean, dry, lint-free rag to wipe off the stain. The result should be some areas of the wood appearing worn and old, without looking fake or dark.
    • When you brush on the glaze, go in the direction of the grain of the wood.
  5. Continue antiquing your cabinets.Repeat this process of brushing on antiquing glaze and wiping it off, over all of your cabinets. Try to add equal amounts of the antiquing glaze to each cabinets, so that you maintain uniformity across all the wood. Follow the package directions for drying time.
  6. Distress your cabinets if desired.Although you don’t have to, some people like to add a distressed effect to their cabinets to make them appear even more worn and ‘vintage’. There are a number of ways of doing so, including sanding down the wood over the top of the fresh antiquing glaze, using a hammer to hit the wood and create dents, and lightly tapping the surface with a chisel to create indents. Use your distressing method of choice on all the cabinets so that they look consistent.
    • If you sand down your cabinets, use a dry cloth to wipe off the dust again.
  7. Seal your cabinets.If you’re happy with the appearance of your cabinets at this point, then you’re ready to seal! If not repeat the glazing and distressing steps until the cabinets look just the way you hoped. To seal your cabinets, brush on a clear wood sealant over each of the doors, and allow time to dry. Add a second coat if instructed by the package directions.
  8. Finish off your project.Depending on whether or not you removed your cabinet doors, the way you finish will differ slightly. If you took off the doors, put them back in place with their hinges and and knobs reattached. Remove any painters tape, and clean up the surrounding area. Voila! With the cleanup finished, your project is completed; go an enjoy your new antiqued cabinets!

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Is it better to use stain or glaze for kitchen cabinets?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    A stain should be used on bare wood and a glaze on painted cabinets.
Unanswered Questions
  • Do I antique the inside of doors?
  • Should I paint my cabinets when antiquing my kitchen cabinets?
  • Mu cabinets are already painted white and I want to antique over that. Can I do that
  • How do I yellow a cabinet that turned out too light when I stained it?
  • How do I antique white cabinets that have already been stained and sealed?
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  • Remember to concentrate on the edges when you refinish kitchen cupboards. This may make it look more antique.
  • Consider leaving the hinges on when antiquing kitchen cabinets. They may tarnish, but this will add to the overall effect.
  • The clerk at your local paint store can help you select the right type and amount of stain and gloss for your redecorating project.


  • Read the manufacturer's instructions on the stain and gloss. They may suggest you wear safety gear, such as gloves, goggles and mask.

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Date: 11.12.2018, 00:21 / Views: 82354